Oh, what a year this has been

My sweet baby boys are nearing their first birthday. In a couple days they will stuff their chubby little hands into some homemade banana cake with cream cheese frosting. We will sing and clap and they will make us all smile.

Our babies. Leo Thomas and Callum Robert.

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Photos by Ashley Daigle

They are so much more than twins. They are two distinct individuals with unique personalities. Callum is vocal and active, with strong, burly legs. Leo, often sucking two fingers, has a quieter disposition and so content to play on his own. His squeal of delight is contagious. Holding them both at once, while they nuzzle my lap or my neck, makes my heart swell out of my chest. They are each their own person, but they give us double the love – and double the challenge.

By some fluke of nature or by some grand plan, we were given these twins. Was it a test of strength and will? Was it a gift of pure joy? However it came about, we had to find a way. We had to wrap our minds, our family of three, around how-do-we-do-this, how do we become a family of five? How do we care for two tiny, helpless human beings at the same time — while our oldest, then three, still needed us so?

I grew those babies, and that was hard enough. And we were so, so fortunate to see them enter this world at full-term. Pink and beautiful. They latched on and joined me on a journey of struggle, which eventually became somewhat pleasant, in breastfeeding. Hardest thing I’ve ever done, but happy to do this one small thing for my sons.

They slept, sometimes. I probably stressed about it less than I did with Silas. Partly because I was too tired to care. I let them cry a little, and they slept and actually napped better than their older brother ever did.

Still, it was oh-so-difficult the first few weeks and months of their lives. For the first few weeks, they would only sleep on my chest. I remember falling asleep while my mom talked to me. I felt a new kind of tired. Like, absolutely wrecked. And yet, three little humans still needed almost non-stop.

I can handle being tired, but what got me some days was when I felt time and control over my world and my home was spinning away on me, and it was so hard to enjoy my little boys. It’s hard to take in the moments when you aren’t feeling great. I found that when I started getting out, exercising and of course, when I got more sleep, it really helped. Trying not to sweat the small stuff. And thank goodness for everyone who helped us during those early days.

Seeing any baby grow and change is pure magic. But there is something special about twins. They see each other – smile, laugh, head butt, steal toys and food – like no other babies do. They shared a womb for nine months, a crib for a few more months, and a room for longer. They are happy and relaxed in each other’s presence.

There were many days a few months ago when I wondered how I could possibly get through this year. I’m sure Mark felt the same. But one hour, one day at a time, we did it. We really did it!

The sun always came up tomorrow, and there was always more coffee to drink, more snuggles to steal.

And I will keep snuggling these beautiful boys, all three of them, until they won’t let me anymore.

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Marathon by the Sea: my 10K race report

It’s been a week since I took part in the 25th annual Marathon By the Sea, here in beautiful Saint John, NB. This is my “hometown race” (I’m a come-from-away) and I usually try to take part, although the past few years have included various stages of pregnancy and newborns! That being said, I always appreciate the opportunity to run and race, especially now that my children demand so much of my time. Running is my “me time,” which takes much of the pressure off!

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So this year, now that my twins are 11 months old, I wanted a reasonable goal. I haven’t had a ton of time to train, but I figured I could pull of a 10-kilometre run. I didn’t expect to make it a personal best by any stretch — especially on this “certified tough” course. But I knew it would provide some good motivation to train and keep active through the summer.

Well, training went OK. I barely got out for enough runs – maybe two or three per week. My longest run was 9-ish km. I don’t even know because the wristband on my trusty Garmin Forerunner broke off! And let’s not even talk about my nutrition this summer… after a few months of clean eating, I went hog wild all summer, especially on the ice cream!

So when race weekend arrived, let’s just say I wasn’t chomping at the bit. I almost forgot to make time to stop by the expo to pick up my race bib! And I made no elaborate plans for a new running outfit (which I have done in the past), nor did I force my husband and kids to pick a fun spot along the route to cheer me on with a “Go MOM WE LOVE YOU” sign. Wouldn’t that be nice! Instead, I was just lucky to have the chance to sneak away early in the morning and get a peaceful run in before 9:30 a.m. What a treat.

This was my first time trying out the 10-km distance at Marathon by the Sea (MBTS). In the past, they have offered a 5-mile, full and half course. I have done the 5-mile and half-marathons before, along with a 5 km night run a couple years ago. One of the things that appealed to me about this course was the chance to run across both the Reversing Falls and Harbour bridges. Coasting high above the Saint John Harbour is quite an experience by foot. It’s almost enough to take the sting out of the bridge’s cringe-worthy gradual incline.

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After a very hot summer, especially for temperate Saint John, race morning was generally good. It was a little cooler and overcast, yet muggy. By the time I was done running, I was dripping in sweat but at least the sun wasn’t beating down.

I felt as though I kept up a good pace. I wasn’t fast, but steady. I followed a middle-aged couple who were strong, steady runners, and tried to keep them in my sights. I only stopped to walk at the water stations, and even then only briefly.

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The toughest part is actually the first 5 km. It’s all uphill! Starting out at the cruise ship terminal along the harbour, we took Harbour Passage, up to Reversing Falls, still up around Simms Corner to Lancaster Avenue with the peak at Olsen’s. Then there was a nice downhill as we ran down Prince Street and Riverview Drive on the lower west side to the base of the Harbour Bridge. As mentioned the big Harbour Bridge included another significant climb levelling out, going down for a bit then up again on the highway exit back to the uptown. Whew! Lots of hills on this race!

For the final stretch, I tried to race the woman next to me but ran out of steam. She peeled ahead, but I’m glad I gave it a final push. My final time was 59:05… a personal worst, by far. I think my next slowest time is 55 minutes!

But hey, I now have THREE young children, two of those not yet one year old. I grew those babies in this amazing body of mine, and it can still take me on a 10-kilometre run. Now that is something to celebrate. It honestly fills my eyes with tears when I think about it.

Thanks to all the organizers and volunteers at Marathon by the Sea, for bringing such a great event to the city. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of, and to see friends and visitors use the power of their bodies to take in the majestic views (and hills) this place has to offer. It’s so easy to take for granted.